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Inspiring a day like no other

ATLANTA (WXIA) - Friday, November 11, 2011, was a day in the works for a year, inspired by a beautiful life. 

Rachel Joy Scott wrote in her journal about spreading kindness and starting a chain of good deeds. But her life was taken in the most senseless way possible. She was the first student killed in the massacre at Columbine High School in 1999.

RELATED: Did you miss last Friday's special? Watch it here!

Events like Friday's celebration of kindness and service, and chains of kindness like those that adorned the Georgia Dome are her legacy.

"My daughter was shot outside her school and as she lay dying, I wondered if she wondered if her dream would be a reality," said Rachel's father, Darryl Scott. "You're a part of that reaction."

For the past year, 11Alive has been spreading Rachel's message and seeing schools across the state run with that message - making their own chains formed of links of kind acts. On Friday, the ultimate chain of kindness extended all the way to the rafters of the Georgia Dome, and if they were stretched out as a single line, it would run some ten miles long.

And that was just the beginning. Then, came taped congratulations from celebrities like the Zac Brown Band, Matt Lauer and Ellen DeGeneres. After that, a moment that nearly brought this reporter to tears - messages from soldiers overseas, whose own kids were in the audience and didn't know what they were about to see.

In that touching moment, a transition from the celebration of kindness to the event's second act - the celebration of service: an hour devoted to Veterans' Day, which also had its moments. First the entrance of the soldiers, followed by the National Anthem, sung by a 10-year-old girl named Lily Anderson, whose body is battling cancer, but whose spirit remains undaunted.

Then, the Pledge of Allegiance and a message from Georgia's Commissioner of Veterans Affairs and World War II veteran Pete Wheeler.

There were songs and speeches and more than 8,000 parents, children, teachers and students. And wrapped in the dual messages of kindness and service, a loud clarion call to take the day and the works of the year to make them last well beyond.

"Keep Rachel in your hearts, and be kind and compassionate, serve wherever there is a need," 11Alive's Brenda Wood said to the assembled. "This is not the end - it is a beginning!"